Danville delivers in fourth quarter, returns to region championship

Published 12:33 am Saturday, March 2, 2019

STANFORD — Danville is back in the 12th Region championship.

After 17 years, the Admirals booked their ticket to the region title after defeating Pulaski County 49-46 in the region semifinals at Lincoln County on Friday.

It’s the first trip to the region finals for Danville since 2002. The Admirals’ last region championship was in 1990.

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“This is a special team, we come in to practice every day ready to get better,” Danville senior DeShaud St. Martin said. “This team, everybody wants to see everybody win. We share the ball, we play the right way. This team is special, we are all best friends, we all hang out after every game, go to pregame meals. These are my brothers, I love them. To go back to the region championship, it’s special.”

St. Martin was the go-to player for the Admirals down the stretch. He scored 14 points in the final two quarters, including a finish through contact to put the Admirals ahead 45-44 with under two minutes to play.

The two teams were tied at 34-34 entering the fourth quarter. Neither team could gain separation for the first 24 minutes, and Pulaski was the team that took advantage early in the fourth.

Danville turned the ball over on five of its first six possessions in the fourth quarter, starting an 8-0 Pulaski run.

“We turned it over so much in transition,” Danville head coach Ed McKinney said. “(Pulaski) got back with a purpose, there was a stretch where we just kept turning it over. Part of that is we were saying ‘woah’ to people we wanted to finish instead of leading the break. Most of the time we’ve got guys ready to go through you in transition. They were back and ready to play.”

The Admirals preached patience throughout the game — Pulaski was winning on the glass, but Danville forced tough shots and kept the game close with defense. Pulaski finished with 16 more shots than the Admirals (20-of-55 compared to 20-of-39) and had 13 offensive rebounds to Danville’s six.

“We got 16 less shots, that’s crazy,” McKinney said. “They just killed us on the offensive glass. Can’t get beat like that on the offensive glass and win much. We’re very fortunate. But we made plays late, our defense was good enough to keep the score down. We made all the plays down the stretch, but we weren’t clean. We missed free throws.”

After a Colton Fraley basket, Pulaski County led 46-45 with 42.1 seconds left. The Admirals called timeout and drew up a play that opened up St. Martin on the block. He was fouled and went to the line.

“We executed a play. That was big,” McKinney said. “In crunch time, we executed a play.”

St. Martin hit both.

“I just tried to clear my mind, pick a spot on the rim and put the ball there,” he said. “I knew I had to come through big for my team.”

Danville would force a turnover on the next possession, leading to a wide-open Dante Hayden layup. Pulaski’s final three wasn’t close, giving Danville the win.

McKinney said defense is what the Admirals have been built on this season, and it was defense that did the job in the region semifinals.

“That’s what we’ve built our season on, we don’t have a ton of blowout wins,” he said. “We’ve done it with our defense all year long.”

Danville will face Lincoln County — winners over Wayne County 67-64 in five overtimes — on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Admirals and Patriots met in the 1990 region finals, the last Danville region championship. Danville won both regular-season games this season but Lincoln won the 45th District championship game last week.


Box score


12th Region semifinals at Lincoln County


DANVILLE 13 9 11 15 49

PULASKI COUNTY 13 9 11 12 46




DANVILLE: DeShaud St. Martin 19, Dante Hayden 14, Zach Thornton 9, Darrian Bell 5, Trey Dawson 2.

PULASKI: Grant Oakes 18, Colton Fraley 13, Jacob Combs 7, Zach Travis 4, Garrett Heath 4.